Latest agri-business jobs on show

Issue: Volume 97, Number 8

Posted: 9 May 2018
Reference #: 1H9ihH

Teachers and students find out what a job in the agricultural industry involves.

Changing minds at Highlands Intermediate

For most of the Highlands Intermediate students who recently visited Matarata Downs near New Plymouth,
it was the first time they had set foot on a farm.

Their visit was part of a wider project that aims to get students from 100 primary schools onto sheep and beef farms across
New Zealand. It’s funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) and organised by NZ Young Farmers.

Project Manager Deb Kingma says exposing students and teachers to modern farming and confronting outdated perceptions are a key goal.

“It also helps them understand the wealth of career opportunities available in the agri-food sector.”

New Plymouth’s Highlands Intermediate was the first school to visit a farm as part of the initiative.

Six classes went to Matarata Downs, a 460-hectare sheep and beef farm at Tarata co-owned by Jarred and Sarah Coogan, and Sarah’s parents Bryan and Helen Hocken.

Laura Francis hadn’t considered agriculture as a career option, but she’s changed her mind after the trip.

“Being on the farm made me realise that I would love to be outdoors, and feeding and working with animals as a future career,” says the Year 7 student.

The first-hand experience ignited the imagination of the Year 7–8 pupils.

“When they experience a working farm, and understand all the different occupations involved with a productive farming business, they get really excited,” said Highlands Intermediate teacher Tracey McCook.

The joint project runs until July. Ten per cent of the schools involved must be bilingual or Māori language immersion schools.

“A third of the schools must be from big urban areas, a third from smaller towns and the other third must be rural schools,” said Leeann Morgan, who manages NZ Young Farmers’ school engagement team.

Demand has been highest from Auckland schools and from the dairy-dominant Taranaki region.

The support of farmers to develop a pipeline of youth talent is vital
to the future of farming in New Zealand, says RMPP Project Manager Di Falconer.

“These programmes are all about creating a sustainable sheep and beef sector where not just rural youth but kids in urban areas are exposed to the diverse career opportunities the industry offers.”


Teachers’ Day Out – a chance to update farming perceptions

A herd of cows in Kumeu recently found themselves in front of an audience of teachers as part of a series of ‘Teachers’ Day Out’ events designed to showcase careers in the agri-food sector.

Team manager Leeann Morgan reports that interest among teachers for spots on the field days has been high and, like the group of students from Highlands Intermediate, there were plenty experiencing a farm for the first time.

The 57-hectare Kumeu farm has 180 cows and is owned by Ken Lay. Sharemilker Paul Tyacke says many teachers were surprised at the level of technology that is part of a Kiwi farmer’s life in 2018.

The farm was fitted with three Lely Astronaut robotic milking machines several years ago.

“They run 24 hours a day,” says Paul. “Instead of milking cows for five hours, we now sit in front of a computer for an hour a day analysing data collected during the milking process.

Cross-curricular farming

Teachers’ Day Out events involve educators from across the subject spectrum, from science to business studies, mathematics and technology.

“We had a number of food technology teachers take part, which we weren’t expecting,” says Leeann.

One of the goals is to more fully integrate the agri-food sector into the teaching curriculum.

“We want teachers to learn about the innovation, science and technology used in New Zealand’s globally recognised food production industry,” said Christel Chapman, who is a project manager with the school engagement team.

The groups visited honey producers; a vineyard; a robotic dairy farm; a 9,000-cow dairy farm; a market garden; a mushroom farm; a sheep and beef farm and berry, kiwifruit and avocado orchards.

They also toured the Port of Tauranga, Plant & Food Research and the Marcel’s Pancakes factory.

Albany Senior High School teacher Kaye McKean loved the day out as it refreshed her understanding of where agriculture is at the moment.

“It’s certainly made a difference to the way I talk about agriculture in the classroom,” she says.

Kaye believes students need to know about agriculture’s importance because it’s such a driving force of the New Zealand economy.

“Farming’s not just about gumboots and a pair of stubbies. It’s so much more. It’s science, business and technology, and our Auckland students really need to know that.”

The Teachers’ Day Out is part of NZ Young Farmers’ Get Ahead programme, which engaged with almost 150 (mostly urban) schools in 2017.  

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 2:00 am, 9 May 2018

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